Oak Man

I am the voice inside an acorn.
I wear a cup shaped hat.
I tip it when I please.
I chatter in the hands of squirrels.
I buzz in wasps.
I whisper with the bolete.
I sleep. I spring.
I am sprightly. I am green.
I endure the push of each lobed leaf.
I carouse in the flush.
I take time to reach maturity.

I am the tree that holds the world.

I am the guardian and the gateway.
I come well equipped with elves.
I run in ants down many passageways.
I hollow out.
I don a skirt of armillaria.
I am mulch for the weevil and moth.
I am rot and I am canker.
I sink in the bog.
I am a sunk and empty vessel.
I am a coffin for your soul.
I am a boat to the eternal.

Oak and Feather Acorn

 

*Poem inspired by the gift of this acorn pendant from Lynda Ryder to the members of the Oak and Feather grove.

White Mare Waking

Cow Parseley, Greencroft ValleyGreen grows white tipped
cow parsleys a head high,
citadels of intrigue
to a wild cavorting eye.

Daisies peek. Curiosity paws.
Garlic stinks time bomb shards
expanding a quivering nostril.

In green freedom she rolls
turning sun over grass,
cloud over bough,
kicking her heels up.
Spring is here!

Shaking off the old,
treading invisible horse paths
of a lost long maned herd,
her restlessness ripples
through green tips and white flowers.

Trip, Splash the Celandine

Celandine Greencroft Valley 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Fairy:

Trip, splash
The celandine
A radiant flash
A widening sequin.

Skip, pour
A dazzling shower
Bottled sunshine
Painting with flowers.

Flick, hold
The centre of gold
Globe in beauty
Shine like sunlight.

Flip, pelt,
Explode to my spell
Spreading the valley
With bountiful yellow.

Slow Spring

Celandine by Fish House Brook

 

 

 

 

 

The ground is parched, flowers sparse,
celandine’s only growing
near the stream. There is no grass
on the green but still they’re mowing
the same old tortured track ways.

Someone killed a daffodil
and spread it’s butchered limbs across
the valley. The trees might not fight
back but the winds will undo
our Baconian mechanics.

I was told by an ancient god
this world met it’s end in 2012.
When no-one noticed he only
laughed a little bit- whilst worlds
are always changing people don’t.

* This poem was inspired by a line shared by Coll on the Druid Network Members’ site: ‘Genius is but a robin’s song at the beginning of a slow spring.’ – Kahlil Gibran

Greencroft Valley

Greencroft ValleyGreencroft Valley is located in Penwortham, and is split down its centre between Kingsfold Ward on the east and Middleforth Green to the west. From (at least) medieval times up until 1984 the valley was farmland. The 1839 Tithe map shows the fields at the south end of the valley (between Pope Lane and the old Oak) as belonging to the Mayor family, who owned Malt Kiln Farm and Cottage. The cottage was originally a water powered mill, where barley from the local fields was made into grain. Following this, grain was soaked in a stone trough, ‘chitted’, germinated, dried in a kiln and ‘riddled’ before being placed in sacks to be taken by horse and cart to the Black Bull Inn. The land was bought by the church in 1860[1].

The fields north of the Oak belonged to the Baker family, who lived in a house called Alderfield, and later became Miss Whittam’s riding school (the site is now covered by Greencroft). The old hedge line can still be seen between the old Oak, the adjacent trees and another oak tree of a similar age near the Malthouse Way entrance. Another visible hedge line divides the green from the woods close to the Maltings. This divided the fields belonging to Alderfield from Fish Pan Pasture.

The presence of the mill combined with the two fishing ponds on the Tithe Map and the large culvert adjacent to Hill Road South, all form evidence that Fish House Brook was several times larger and more forceful than it is now, showing the drastic shifts that have been brought about in the water table over the past 150 years. Another point of note is that there was a well in the valley close to the edge of the brook, to whose steps a path ran from Alderfield; this disappeared with the building of the new estates.

The large and irregular field patterns suggests they date back at least to medieval times. A 1590 map refers to the land that stretches from Pope Lane to Castle Hill as ‘all these ancient and several lands of the manor of Penwortham as well as the Queen’s as of freeholders and copyholders[2]’. The first entry for Penwortham in the Domesday book cites the existence of ‘two ploughs,’ in reference to Penwortham End and Middleforth Green. Evidence from the Dock Finds shows the area adjacent to the Ribble near Castle Hill was occupied from the Neolithic period onward. If this was the case in higher Penwortham, then judging by the population figures (the population of Britain was higher in the Iron Age than it was during the Norman period[3]) it is possible Middleforth Green and the valley have been occupied and farmed just as long.

The occupation and land use changed dramatically between 1979 and 1984 as a result of the Central Lancashire New Towns project. This was set up in 1973 and aimed to draw together Penwortham, Preston, Walton, Leyland and Chorley in a vast urban sprawl with a population of half a million, covering 55 square miles with houses[4]. During this period the estates of Greencroft, Malthouse Way, Alderfield and the Maltings were built- over 300 houses, bringing an approximate number of 600 people[5] into the area, in stark contrast to the small number who occupied Malt House Farm and Cottage and Alderfield. It was during this period that Middleforth School, which was founded in 1861 and was formerly a Chapel-School situated where Church Brook House now stands at the bottom of Marshall’s Brow, was moved to its present site[6]. It seems needless to say that the impact on the nature and wildlife of the area must have been huge.

This open green space and woodland now forms an important habitat for wildlife, a roosting place for birds, a possible swimming place for stream life and a pleasant vista for dog walkers and play area for children, and is the only place amidst the new estates where the traces of so many centuries of our rural past is preserved. Home to a plethora of living things, from those with roots and leaves, to those with legs, tails or wings, it is an eco-system that deserves care and respect, and this is the purpose of the Friends of Greencroft Valley.

[1] Elizabeth Basquill, More Hidden Histories of Penwortham Houses, (The Friends of Hurst Grange Park, 2011), p6-11, 42-44.
[2] Alan Crosby, Penwortham in the Past, (Carnegie Press, 1988), p67
[3] There were 3 million people in 700 BC compared to 2.5 million in 1086 http://www.ukagriculture.com/countryside/countryside_history.cfm
[4] Alan Crosby, Penwortham in the Past, (Carnegie Press, 1988), p145
[5] Going by the average figure of 2.32 people per household http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/pdf/1172133.pdf
[6] Penwortham Magazine, Issue 3.

Fish House Brook

Rainwater sharp drums the earth’s dark soil,
With a tantalizing splash sinks into her pores.
Through a tumult of tunnels, tumbling forth
From a pipeline vessel comes my concrete source.

Sieving through stones I wind my way around,
Slipping by silt, diving sleek from platforms,
Foaming effervescent, wooden rails hold my course.
I’m driven through the gauntlet like a wilful water horse.

My tributaries tremble through constricting veins
Their water has been stolen by the sewers and the drains.
The contusion of pipes plugging earth’s damp flesh
Dumps on my banks, spitting domestic waste.

My hydrophonic pulse with the force to drive a mill
Springs from showers and spins in washing machines.
Weeping by wounds of flesh pink clay,
I seep through grooves as the land is washed away.

When the earth’s dark skin is sealed under concrete,
The last dash of water in the New Town monster
And my channel dies tight by their eyeless folly
My streaming ghost will scream through the valley.

The Wild Ivy

The Wild Thyme is Los’s messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon
Terrible deadly and poisonous.
– William Blake Milton

 

 

 

 

A traveler,
Twisting outward from eternity.
Hedera helix spiral climbing,
Subtle fibres root the earth, pierce the tree.
Vines entwine an embracing strangle,
Mighty deadlock pulsing path of evergreen.

A traveler
On a long journey,
Cordate faces look out to see.
Draping decoration wraps the valley
Pervading everything with ivy’s mystery

Hanging tendrils sing deafening resonations:
“Joy-lament the world you fail to see!”
I can see you’ve travelled far to reach me
And ask “what message do you bring to me?”

Litter in the Valley

If the doors of perception were cleansed
Everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.
For man has closed himself up.’
–          William Blake ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Litter in the valley-
when people pass by
I see their minds are littered with debris;
carrier bags squashed, squeamishly sodden,
crisp packets tattle in the trees.
Chocolate wrappers with dirt in their pockets
chase like dogs without leads.
Discarded, a full can with a wasp in it,
dead, fermented in the void.
Shattered bottles glass the earth,
cider vessels huge and vacuous,
squeezed shut as if by the jaws of some great mutt.
A sip of vinegar slides along the bottom,
seeps out leaving a stench-
stains on the valley,
a land of garbage.

Cleanse the doors of perception and you will see
roots from the earth’s depth towering upward to infinity,
peppered bark- tan, brown, silver, grey,
tough, rough, notched, spot a gnarlen face.
Feel the clog of loam on your feet,
smells like umber, hidden paths and treats.
The swish of the leaves, damp and orange curls
twitching brown, yellow curve citrine,
amber shells, red night dancers and newly fallen green.
Halt! Hear the intangible snap, see them float,
swaying like boats, turning like sun dials
as bright beams break through the boughs,
raising mist from cold clarity of the stream.

So why crust over this sacred vision with debris,
facies hippocratica, waste site insult to all that is living?
Everything sings, everything feels and dreams.
Open your mind and clear the litter from the valley.